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Two new fish passes open up on the River Don

Two new fish pass ‘superhighways’ have been created on the River Don as efforts continue to re-introduce more salmon into the centre of Sheffield.

The £2.6m projects have been carried out by Yorkshire Water, in partnership with the Environment Agency and with support from the Don Catchment Rivers Trust.

One is located at Wharncliffe Side village and traverses an industrial-era weir that was previously blocking fish such as trout, salmon and grayling from swimming upstream.

The other fish pass is located at Jordans Dam, next to Blackburn Meadows sewage treatment works, and also allows fish to bypass a major weir dating make to the early 1600s.

Ben Aston from the Environment team at Yorkshire Water, said: “The latest fish passes we have created on the River Don help fish including salmon to swim up and around the weirs to reach their spawning grounds. Bypassing these obstacles is another important step in the journey to providing a healthy and resilient river which will encourage the return of species like the majestic salmon to the River Don.”

Many weirs were created to help hold flood waters back, as well as controlling river levels to aid boat navigation. However, at the time they were built little attention was paid to how they would negatively impact on fish’s freedom of movement. Many are now being removed or circumnavigated to help boost river fish populations.

Pete Turner, Fisheries Officer at the Environment Agency said: “The quality of the water in our rivers and streams has never been so good and fish are thriving because of it. Weirs such as these stop fish from moving freely though, for example to access new habitat or spawning grounds. It’s fantastic that organisations like Yorkshire Water are actively addressing barriers to fish movement which are on their land. In the future I’m sure that this work will contribute to even better, more resilient fisheries in the area.”

Yorkshire Water has pledged to build a total of 14 new fish passes across the region by 2020, committing £10m and working closely with partner organisations to deliver. Projects will be carried out on the River Aire to help salmon travel upstream, as well as on the rivers Wharfe, Hull and Don.